Debrief after Tax Season

Business, Featured Blog Posts, Industry Updates,

Pennsylvania is one of our most densely populated states and is a magnet for businesses, large and small. After a busy tax season, it is tempting for PA accountants and CPAs to want to take a break and wind down. But while everything is fresh in your mind, take some time to assess your experiences over the last couple of months to see if there is anything you can do differently next year to improve results.

Sit down with your staff to get their feedback and helpful recommendations.

If you have partners, you may want to sit with them separately, so that each group feels comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas without being afraid of insulting anyone. You could also do a written questionnaire, but be sure to have an in-person meeting of some kind. Make it pleasant, like having lunch delivered for the meeting.

Look for feedback in a variety of categories:
  • How was the information flow between staff members and between staff and partners?
  • How was the information flow between accountants and clients?
  • Were clients timely in sending thorough information and documents needed to complete their returns in a timely manner? (An Intuit survey found that 65% of tax work time is spent trying to get information from clients.)
Procedures that may need to be established or enforced
  • Are clients requesting ballpark figures or complaining that their accountant is taking too long, yet the client is not sending needed information?
  • Were deadlines changed by a partner without consulting the accountant to see if that would be possible or if it would impact other projects?
  • Is an accountant left doing the same work for more than several years rather than advancing?
  • Are staff members trying to access information, software, or office machines at the same time, causing a bottleneck?
  • Are documents managed and filed in a logical, intuitive manner for easy access? Is there a standardized method for your staff to store client information?
Team dynamics
  • How is the staff morale? Is it consistently positive or negative, or does it fluctuate during various seasons?
  • What factors impact morale and what can you do to maintain a positive morale even (and especially) during busy seasons?
  • Do team members interact well? Are there any staff members who cause problems?
  • Did you feel you were short-handed or lacking an expert in a particular field?
Revenue growth
  • Did you have more clients this year or fewer?
  • Did you have the types of clients you wanted this year?
  • Did billable hours increase, decrease, or remain the same?
  • Have you hit your goals for the year? Do you have clearly defined goals?

This is not a complete list of items to think about, but it’s a great jumping-off point. During your meeting, team members may bring more issues to your attention. Be ready to record everything, whether or not you think it is reasonable, fixable, or appropriate...

Because every single idea can tell you something about your business, your client base, and your staff.

After your meeting, evaluate the results and prioritize the most immediate issues that will make the greatest impact and have the best ROI. Discuss again with your team, looking for further feedback to refine your plans. Keeping them in the loop and letting them know your plans will show them that they are important to you and that their ideas matter, boosting morale. It will also hold you accountable to get those changes made. Some may take time to implement, so schedule the steps to implement the changes and assign individuals, if necessary, to aid in the implementation.

By following these steps right after tax season, you should be able to make your next tax season run more smoothly and more profitably while building up the satisfaction, productivity, and loyalty of your staff and your clients.